“Exploring What Opera Means…”

That’s what the Wall Street Journal wrote about our Radio Operas show at Abrons Arts Center.  The two performances were sold out and a huge success!  Here are some stills from the shows:

I Need Space
The Extractor
Thomas Pai...
The Collector

Robert Ashley
Georges Aperghis
Jason Cady
Cough Button
Joe Diebes
Ruby Fulton
Ann Heppermann
Gabrielle Herbst
John King
Mary Kouyoumdjian
Jonathan Mitchell
Jessica Pavone
Paul Pinto
Louisa Proske
Megan Schubert
Aaron Siegel
Justin Tierney
Leaha Maria Villarreal
Matthew Welch
John Zorn

Jonathan Mitchell 4Jonathan Mitchell is a radio producer, composer, and co-creator of The Truth, a radio fiction program from American Public Media. He has contributed a wide range of pieces—documentaries, fictional stories, non-narrated sound collages, and original music— to many public radio programs, including Radiolab, Studio 360, This American Life, Fair Game, The Next Big Thing, Living on Earth, Weekend America, Marketplace, and All Things Considered.

Jonathan composed the music and sound design for two episodes ofNova on PBS (Astrospies and The Spy Factory), and also created parodies of TV commercials heard in the computer games The Simsand The Sims 2. In 2004, he won a Golden Reel Award for Shades of Gray, an hour-long documentary about abortion. He was a member of the team that produced Studio 360′s 2004 Peabody Award-winning episode about Moby-Dick, and he worked on the 2010 Peabody, Murrow, and duPont Award-winning radio documentary The Great Textbook War.

Other past clients include WNYC, KQED, WBEZ, PRI, Hearing Voices, Time Magazine, Antenna Audio, Maxis/Electronic Arts,, Candide Media, The Fairmount Park Art Association, and Sirius Satellite Radio.

Jonathan studied music composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Mills College. He lives in New York City.

For more information, visit

Heppermann-1-HeppermannA Brooklyn-based, independent, radio/multimedia documentary producer, transmission sound artist, and educator, her stories air nationally and internationally on National Public Radio, the BBC, and on numerous shows, including: “This American Life,” “Radio Lab,” “Marketplace,” “Morning Edition,” “Studio360,” and many others. A Peabody award-winning producer, she has also received Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow, and Third Coast International Audio Festival awards. A transmission artist with free103point9, her work has been exhibited at UnionDocs, Chicago Center for the Arts, and other venues. She has taught classes and workshops at Duke Center for Documentary Studies, Smith College, Columbia University, and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism; for years, she was the director of radio at Brooklyn College. She is a co-creator of Mapping Main Street, a collaborative media project documenting the nation’s more than 10,000 Main Streets, which was created through AIR’s MQ2 initiative along with NPR, the CPB, and the Berkman Center at Harvard University. Her work has been funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Association of Independents, the Arizona Humanities Council, and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. Currently, she is a Rosalynn Carter for Mental Journalism Fellow and will be making a multimedia documentary about preteen anorexia in partnership with Ms. Magazine and NPR.

Paul Pinto
New York native Paul Pinto is a composer, vocalist and founding artistic director of experimental music ensemble thingNY. As a multi-instrumental and vocal improviser, Paul has lent his talents to collaborative projects in theatre and film. His music has been performed in the International Istanbul Film Festival, Glasgow’s Shakespeare in the City Festival, and by ensembles and performers around the world, including Pauline Oliveros, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Ensemble loadbang, The Royal Scottish Academy Chamber Chorus, the Carnegie Mellon Concert Chorus, the ai Ensemble and IKTUS Percussion Quartet.

Paul has studied composition at Carnegie Mellon with Leonardo Balada and Nancy Galbraith and at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with John Maxwell Geddes and James Macmillan. He has also studied voice with Stephen Neely and conducting with Robert Page, Frank Nemhauser and Alasdair Mitchell.

As a vocalist, Paul has most recently performed in the Kitchen’s remounting of Robert Ashley’s 1967 experimental opera, That Morning Thing, as well as his own work and collaborations with ensemble thingNY.

As a conductor and music director, Paul is an advocate of underrepresented experimentalists in classical music. At the helm of thingNY (called an “inventive new music cabal” by Time Out New York) Paul has premiered hundreds of works from emerging composers in thingNY’s six year existence. Paul has also led premieres of more established composers like Pauline Oliveros, Paul Burnell, Art Jarvinen, Kyle Gann and Gerard Grisey.

Equally interested in written and improvised experimental chamber and electronic music, Paul’s latest projects have been focused on composing for unconventional instruments (such as turntables and radios) and collaborating on new opera compositions. TIME: A Complete Explanation in Three Parts (a collaboration with thingNY and the Panoply Performance Laboratory) was a critics’ pick in Time Out New York, Channel Thirteen Arts Blog, and Flavorpill who wrote “this thoughtful work explores each moment to the fullest.”

NewMusicBox writes of Paul’s first album with thingNY, the experimental opera ADDDDDDDDD “takes rapid-fire, largely spoken-word lyrical content and plays it out across a pulseraising background constructed of sonic accents like dinging bells and remote control channel changing—multiple streams of content flashing by at warp speed. Even in its audio-only CD release format, it’s somehow all consuming. I bet no one feels the urge to check their email during a live performance.”

Along with newly formed collective, Varispeed, Paul arranged and premiered a day-long, site-specific version of Robert Ashley’s seminal opera for television, Perfect Lives, hailed by the New York Times as “delighting”, “perplexing” and “unleash[ing] latent potential, while remaining faithful to [the original's] textural integrity and structural rigor.”

Scenes from his ballet, Miseke are available on DVD and CD through the educational UK label, Learning and Teaching Scotland. In addition to ADDDDDDDDD, Paul has also released four albums: The Gentlemen (2009), a suite for vocals and electronics, Every Note on the Piano (2010), NUDES: live at the Mary Benson Gallery (2010) with guitarist animal nudity, and For Stefanos Tsigrimanis (2011) an elegy for turntables, voice, guitar and electronics. His scores have been published by Deep Listening Publications.

For more information, visit

JK_vlaJohn King, composer, guitarist and violist, has received commissions from the Kronos Quartet; Red {an orchestra}, Ethel; the Albany Symphony/”Dogs of Desire”, Bang On A Can All-Stars; Mannheim Ballet; New York City Ballet/Diamond Project, Stuttgart Ballet, Ballets de Monte Carlo; as well as the Merce Cunningham Dance Co. His string quartets have also been performed by the Eclipse Quartet (LA) and the Mondriaan Quartet (Amsterdam). His quartet Crucible has premiered many of his compositions at The Stone (June 2007) and The Kitchen (April 2009).

He has written 3 operas: herzstück/heartpiece, based on the text of Heiner Müller, premiered at the 1999 Warsaw Autumn Festival and presented at the Kitchen NYC in 2000 (a double-opera, co-written with Krzysztof Knittel); la belle captive based on texts by Alain Robbe-Grillet, premiered at Teatro Colon/CETC in Buenos Aires in 2003, and toured to London’s ICA (Fronteras Festival) in 2004 and The Kitchen in 2005; and also his most recent opera, Dice Thrown, based on the Stéphane Mallarmé poem, an excerpt of which was performed by New York City Opera as part of its VOX series in May 2008. The complete staged version was presented at CalArts April 23-24, 2010.

He has 3 recent CD releases of music for string quartet; 10 Mysteries and AllSteel (Tzadik); and Ethel (Cantaloupe). He was Music Curator at The Kitchen from 1999-2003 and from 2002-2011 was a co-director of the Music Committee at MCDC. He is also the recipient of the 2009 Alpert Award in the Arts for Music.

For more information, visit

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Holy Visio...
Holy Visio...

Jessica Pavone (composer, viola, violin, el.bass) has performed in countless improvisation, avant jazz, experimental, folk, soul, and chamber ensembles since moving to NYC in 2000. She currently plays with Normal Love, in a duo with guitarist Mary Halvorson, with Anthony Braxton’s ensembles and as a solo violist. As a composer, The Wire magazine praised her “ability to transform a naked tonal gesture into something special,” and The New York Times described her music as “distinct and beguiling…its core is steely, and its execution clear.”
Pavone’s recent works for solo viola and voice stem from years of concentrated long tone practice and an interest in repetition, song form, and sympathetic vibration. She combines her long tone rituals with delay, understated melodies and sparse lyrical content while continuously experimenting with new forms. She is interested in the physicality of performing her somewhat larger-than-comfortable instrument and believes that cultivating physical bodies as a strong container for her thoughts is part of the creative process.

As an instrumentalist, she has personally worked with and interpreted new music by; Aaron Seigel, Andrew Raffo Dewar vigrx wikipedia, Elliott Sharp, Glenn Branca, Henry Threadgill, Leo Smith, Jason Ajemian, Jason Cady, Jeremiah Cymerman, John King, Matana Roberts, Matthew Welch, Tristan Perich, Tyondai Braxton and William Parker; and, has played strings in bands such as Christy and Emily, Pure Horsehair, White Blue Yellow and Clouds, Joy Mega, and The Artificials.

Pavone has toured extensively throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, performing in venues ranging from international music festivals, universities, and art galleries, to community centers and basements. Her music has premiered in venues in New York City such as, Roulette, Issue Project Room, and The Kitchen, and at the Klangbad Festival in Sheer, Germany. In 2011 she was featured in NPR’s “The Mix: 100 Composers Under 40.” She has received grants and commissions from the Aaron Copland Recording Fund, the American Music CenterThe KitchenMATA, The Jerome Foundation, Experiments in Opera, and the chamber music collective, Till By Turning.

CDs of Pavone’s music are available from Tzadik, Thirsty Ear, Porter, Skirl, and Peacock Recordings.

For more information, visit

New Shorts videos by New Shorts Composers Robert Ashley, Jason Cady, Joe Diebes, Ruby Fulton, Gabrielle Herbst, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Aaron Siegel, Justin Tierney, Leaha Maria Villarreal, Matthew Welch.

Photos from New Shorts on February 9, 2013 featuring works by Robert Ashley, Jason Cady, Joe Diebes, Ruby Fulton, Gabrielle Herbst, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Aaron Siegel, Justin Tierney, Leaha Maria Villarreal, and Matthew Welch

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Videos from February 2013′s New Shorts:

Video Introductions from Experiments in Opera’s 2012 Spring Series:

Louisa Proske is a director of theatre, classical and contemporary opera, new music performance, and video. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Yale School of Drama. Originally from Berlin, Germany, she is now based in New York City. Her productions include Poulenc’s opera La Voix Humaine (Yale Opera/ Yale School of Drama); the world premiere of Christopher Cerrone’s opera Invisible Cities at the Italian Academy New York; an evening of world premiere short operas by Matthew Welch, Jason Cady and Aaron Siegel (Issue Project Room/ Experiments in Opera); her thesis production of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline at Yale School of Drama; Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Strasberg Institute/ NYU); Pinkalicious the Musical and This Same Progeny of Evils (an adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) at the Hangar Theatre, Ithaca; Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (Avant Music Festival/ The Wild Project, NYC); Rum ‘n Coca Cola in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad; an international tour of Macbeth through Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, and the U.K.; As You Like It (Yale Summer Cabaret Shakespeare Festival); ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore (The Tank, NYC); The Lover (Yale School of Drama); a theatrical bad credit payday loans lenders staging of Purcell’s vocal music entitled REVELS (Manhattan School of Music); A Servant To Two Masters (Edinburgh Fringe Festival); The Barber Shop (Cambridge Footlights); 4.48 Psychosis; The Importance of Being Earnest; No Exit (all Apollonysus Theatre, York, UK); and a tour of Lucy’s Dream through schools in India and Nepal.

Louisa has assisted such prominent opera and theatre directors as Willy Decker, Harry Kupfer and Robert Woodruff. Louisa holds bachelor degrees in English Literature, Politics and Philosophy from Cambridge University and from the University of York. Louisa’s translation of Fassbinder’s film script In a Year with 13 Moons was presented at Yale Repertory Theatre, adapted and directed by Robert Woodruff and featuring Bill Camp and Joan Macintosh. Louisa is honored to be a 2013 Drama League Directing Fellow and co-artistic director of the Lab Academy at the Hangar Theatre, Ithaca, NY.

Upcoming Directing Projects: Two world premiere one-act operas by Jason Cady and Matthew Welch at Abrons Arts Center in November 2013; the world premiere of Trillium J., an opera by Anthony Braxton at Roulette produced by the Tri-Centric Foundation in April 2014 (Associate Director).


Robert Ashley is known for his work in new forms of opera. In the 1960s, Ashley organized Ann Arbor’s legendary ONCE Festival and directed the ONCE Group. During the 1970s, he directed the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College, toured with the Sonic Arts Union, and produced and directed Music with Roots in the Aether, a 14-hour television opera/documentary about the work and ideas of seven American composers. Ashley wrote and produced Perfect Lives, an opera for television widely considered the precursor of “music-television.” Staged versions of Perfect Lives and Atalanta (Acts of God) and the monumental opera tetralogy, Now Eleanor’s Idea, have toured throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. He wrote and directed Balseros for Florida Grand Opera, Dust for premiere at the Kanagawa Arts Foundation in Yokohama, and Celestial Excursions for the Berlin Festival and Hebbel Theater Berlin. Made Out of Concrete was premiered at La MaMa E.T.C. in New York in 2009. Ashley is working on his latest opera, Quicksand. Kyle Gann’s biography of Robert Ashley is forthcoming from the University of Illinois Press.

For more information, visit Robert’s website.

Joe Diebes creates works that converge around music, visual art, and performance.  From 1996-2003 he was a core member as well as the composer for all productions by the hybrid arts group GAle GAtes et al. described by The New York Times as “an adventurous troupe with one foot in the world of postmodern art and the other in downtown performance.” Since then he has continued to create performance work that fuses sound, visual media, and the human voice into a unique form of contemporary opera.  His opera environment, STRANGE BIRDS, received its U.K. premiere in 2005 at Tramway (Glasgow) and his sound-theatre collaboration with Phil Soltanoff, I/O, was presented at Fusebox (Austin 2007) and Theatre Garonne (Toulouse 2008).   He is currently developing a new opera inspired by the story of Milli Vanilli at The Watermill Center with director David Levine and poet Christian Hawkey as well as a sound-driven performance work, BOTCH, in residency at HERE Arts Center.  He has also exhibited internationally his sound installations, video, and works on paper for art galleries, museums, and public spaces including Paul Rodgers/9W (New York), The ’06 Olympics (Torino, Italy), Yuanfen Gallery (Beijing), and the Liverpool Biennial.

For more information, visit Joe’s website.

Baltimore-based composer Ruby Fulton (b. 1981) grew up in Northwest Iowa. Along with composer George Lam, she is co-director of Rhymes With Opera, a company dedicated to bringing new opera to unconventional spaces.

Her music has been played recently by the Holland Symfonia, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, orkest de ereprijs, Volti, REDSHIFT, the quux duo, and musicians from the Tanglewood Music Center, the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA and the A*Devantgarde Festival in Munich.

She has received recognition from the Fromm Foundation (2011 Commission), Musik Centrum Nederland (2010 Gaudeamus Prize Nomination), ASCAP (2009 Morton Gould Young Composers Award), Meet the Composer and the League of American Orchestras (Music Alive: New Partnerships), and the American Composers Forum (2006 Encore Grant with the West End String Quartet); and has been in residency at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Atlantic Center for the Arts (with composer David Lang) and Yaddo.

She has studied with composers Julia Wolfe, Christopher Theofanidis, Moritz Eggert, Elinor Armer, Dan Becker, Charles Fussell, Tison Street and Martin Amlin. She holds degrees from the Peabody Institute, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Boston University.

For more information, visit Ruby’s website.

Gabrielle Herbst resides in Brooklyn. She studied composition at Bard College with Joan Tower, Zeena Parkins and Marina Rosenfeld. As a featured vocalist she has performed with Zeena Parkins, Elliott Sharp, Da Capo Chamber Players, Beyond the Mind at the 2009 Russian American Cultural Center Gala at the Ana Tzarev Gallery, The Green Death at Saint Mark’s Church, Allie Tsypin’s Low Culture Symphony at the former convent of St. Cecilia’s Parish, Brooklyn, at La MaMa E.T.C, and Marina Rosenfeld’s Teenage Lontano in the Whitney Biennial. She has premiered her compositions at Roulette Intermedium, The Stone, Cabinet Magazine’s Exhibition Space, Club Helsinki and HERE Arts Center. Recipient of the 2011 Artist Residency at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center in partnership with New York Theater Workshop, her upcoming projects include commissions from the new music ensemble Contemporaneous. She is also the 2012 recipient of the Con Edison Composers-in-Residence through Exploring the Metropolis, Inc.


For more information, visit Gabrielle’s website or to hear some of Gabrielle’s music visit her SoundCloud page.

Mary Kouyoumdjian is dedicated to composing music that pushes the boundaries of expectation and musical tradition. As a first generation Armenian-American and having come from a family directly affected by the Lebanese Civil War and Armenian Genocide, she uses a sonic pallet that draws on her heritage, interest in folk music, and background in experimental composition to progressively blend the old with the new.

With compositions ranging from concert works to multimedia collaborations and film scores, Kouyoumdjian has received commissions from the American Composers Forum/JFund for her piece Dzov Yerku Kooynov [Sea of Two Colors], REDSHIFT for their “Arctic Sounds” series, the Los Angeles New Music Ensemble, and violinist Andie Springer for her work Dandelion [for Andie Springer]. Her chamber and multimedia pieces have been recorded by such performers as internationally acclaimed cellist Charles Curtis and flautist John Fonville and have been presented by the Boston New Music Initiative and Ear Heart Music. Currently based in New York, Kouyoumdjian also actively promotes the growth of new music in her native state of California and has frequently collaborated with the Los Angeles New Music Ensemble.

Holding a B.A. in Music Composition from the University of California, San Diego and an M.A. in Scoring for Film & Multimedia from New York University, Kouyoumdjian has studied contemporary composition with Chaya Czernowin, Steven Kazuo Takasugi, and Chinary Ung; new music performance with Steve Schick; and modern jazz with Anthony Davis.

Kouyoumdjian is also a co-founder and the executive director of the contemporary music ensemble Hotel Elefant.

For more information, visit Mary’s website.

Blending literature and visual art with experimental composition, LEAHA MARIA VILLARREAL brings a contemporary focus to classical music. Fascinated by themes of home, loss, and memory, her works side-step boundaries and defy convention.

Villarreal’s music has premiered on both coasts featuring the JACK Quartet, violinist Andie Tanning Springer, and members of the percussion ensemble red fish blue fish.  Her work has been sought out by the Composers’ Voice concert series, the Boston New Music Initiative, and the PUBLIQuartet. Past composition teachers include Pulitzer-prize winner Roger Reynolds, Steven Kazuo Takasugi, Chinary Ung, and Tania Leon.  She holds a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego and is pursuing her M.M. at New York University with Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon.

In addition to her work as a composer, Villarreal is an avid supporter of the performing arts. She has lent her services to such preeminent organizations as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Wordless Music Series, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, MATA, the Unsound Festival, and the FIGMENT Arts Festival on Governor’s Island.

Villarreal is a co-founder and the Artistic Director of the New York-based contemporary music ensemble Hotel Elefant.

For more information, visit Leaha’s website.